THE Black Country's highly successful and well attended local history societies meet on a regular basis and invariably invite a guest speaker to wax lyrical about a subject of either nationally historical importance or one closer to home, giving members a chance to broaden their minds, but more importantly improve their general knowledge of the history in their own back yard.
Sometimes the organisers of such esteem establishments arrange visits outside their normal meeting places, and on Wednesday August 13 the Amblecote History Society were given the opportunity to visit and enjoy a tour of the brand new Dudley archives building.
Helen Cook from the society organised what turned out to be a very successful event, and we are grateful to Michael Perkins, editor of the Amblecote History Society magazine, for sending us a brief summary of an adventure into the world of Dudley's past.
Mike told us:"Legends, stories and tales of Dudley's past were just feet away from us as we were shown round the new building in two separate parties, led by Helen and Diane respectively from the archivist team. Stored in computers, on microfilm, in books, etc, and in the repository where bespoke boxes were carefully placed on no less than 4,777 individual shelves in a digitally controlled environment where the temperature and humidity are both kept at a constant level, it was like stepping into the shadows of our ancestors.
"Among the thousands of items that were stored in the repository were old maps and copies of all the local newspapers going back over a century. It may have seemed like a warehouse chock-a-block with grey shelves and brown boxes, but with a little imagination it was like walking through a wonderland of local history.
"The room where people can do their research into family history, etc, was bright and airy with computer screens and microfilm machines alongside the walls, and there were scenes from local landmark buildings and characters from history expertly portrayed on the glass windows and doors featured throughout the building.
"The reception is a very spacious and comfortable area where we decided to have our photograph taken to record the event. The reception is also where Dudley Archives have set aside an exhibition area where at the moment the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War is being remembered. We all thoroughly enjoyed the visit and would recommend it to anyone."